Sunday, July 06, 2008

Independence Day At Independence Hall

SmartyPants has a birthday coming up. It falls towards the middle of the week and the following weekend she will be leaving for camp, so this year we decided to celebrate as a family the weekend before. The Fourth of July happens to occur that weekend, as well, which means most of her friends and some of our family members were out of town or had other previous engagements. Things were not looking good for a party for SmartyPants. After some brainstorming, though we came up with a few idea and presented the best, most affordable to her and let her choose our destination. She chose to spend the Fourth of July in Philadelphia.
i figured she would, you see, her class went on a trip to Philadelphia earlier this year and she came home VERY disappointed. They took the walking tour....which meant walking BY the landmarks, not through them. So she saw the BUILDING where the Liberty Bell is housed, but not the bell itself. The same with Independence Hall. She was upset, to be sure. So what better day to visit this historic city?
It was raining steadily when we got up, but we still had every intention of going. This was a rain or shine trip. We got out of the house only two minutes past our estimated time of departure, which is EXCELLENT for our family. The drive was uneventful (YESSSSS!!!) and we easily found the parking garage directly beneath the Independence Visitors Center, which was our first stop. Ok, actually the BATHROOMS in the visitors center was our first stop. Then over to the Liberty Bell.
One of the neat things about this trip was that not only had the kids never seen any of this stuff, but neither had Wayne. i had seen it all at least once over the course of growing up here. Now i got to watch my family have the same experiences for the first time. It was very cool :)
We visited Benjamin Franklin's grave(the first and only time i intend on paying to walk through the gates of a church graveyard), walked Market St, went inside Independence Hall and attended an ALL YOU CAN EAT ICE CREAM FESTIVAL. You gave them $5 and they gave you a spoon and access to a large tent filled with vendors trying to keep up with the demand of the attendees. Vendors like Ben & Jerry's, Haagen Das, Jack & Jill, Turkey Hill, Rita's and so many others. They had small cups with one good sized scoop in each and you could take as many as you liked as often as you liked. It. Was. Awesome. The proceeds all went to Lukemia research, so it was for a great cause! It was the first and probably only time that we had ice cream for lunch. The problem was that it didn't take us very long for all the sugar to burn up and we became quite hungry for dinner early.
We trekked around a LOT that day and NONE of us are really accustomed to that much walking. Ok, so maybe SOME of us aren't accustomed to that much physical activity altogether, but i digress. Our dogs were BARKING! Our feet were killing us and all we wanted to do was sit down and eat. So we walked the streets trying to find something nice, something sit down and something affordable. We got two out of three. It was quite a nice place called 'The Plough & The Stars' in Old City Philadelphia. We checked out everyone's type of dress and some were in jeans and shorts and tees like us so, as we were all tired of walking we stepped inside and got shown to our loft table. i could tell immediately by the place settings that we had stepped into *cue scary music* a NICE restaurant!!! i had a little bit of experience in the fine dining department while i was growing up so i wasn't so concerned for was the rest of my gang of hoodlums. My children have table manners, mind you, i promise you i have taught them both the basics. WiseGuy has some difficulty remembering some of those manners, as does SmartyPants. Come to think of it, Wayne doesn't always seem to remember HIS, either. i just sort of looked at the table setting, looked at Wayne and he said 'If we ever want to learn how to eat at a nice place we'll all have to GO to a nice place.' With that we sat and picked up our menus. So, two out of the three criteria had been met...nice place and sit down. The third flew out the window when i opened the menu and saw that the cheapest entree in the place at $18.50. Oh don't you believe the menu they have on their website...the prices have changed. i looked up at Wayne and he looked at me. 'We can always leave, honey.' he said to me. Yeah, right...that's just what i'm going to do now that i've been seated, had my napkin put in my lap and my drink order already taken. Let's just leave. No, we could do this, to be honest. The rest of the day was so inexpensive that i figured we could splurge. i looked over at WiseGuy to see him happily using his two forks as airplanes flying side by side and knew it could prove to be a long meal. Aside from a few silverwear faux pas here and there it went relatively smoothly and the bill wasn't as bad as i had anticipated, all things considered. YAY TEAM!!
We trekked back to the Visitor's Center only to find that most people had abandonded the area, heading down to the Ben Franklin Parkway for the parade, festival, concert and fireworks. Not to mention it had started to rain again. Gabe had been done for the day several hours ago, Wayne was ready to call it a day, Ivy and i wanted to go to the rest of the festivities. We stood discussing it when the rain started coming down harder and we watched one another get soaked. With tears in her eyes SmartyPants agreed that going home was the smart thing to do. When she saw the chaos happening down by the Ben Franklin she realized she made the right decision. Besides, there were still some fireworks happening locally the next night.
It had quit raining by the time we got home and both kids had fallen asleep in the car. We had to stop at my mom's to pick up the dog and home we went, everyone exhausted from the day.
We used disposable cameras to take pics so i don't have those yet, but will post some when i do.

Hope everyone had a wonderful and safe Fourth of July!
i know we did!


Aimee said...

Hey - my brother JB and his girlfriend were at the ice cream fest! Of course, he lives on Arch St, so he really doesn't have far to go :)

T with Honey said...

Sounds like you had a great time. Can't wait to see a few pics!!

Billie said...

Glad to see you are back to blogging! I understand how it is so hard to find the time to write though. It sounds like you had a great time in Philly.